The first step to winning a war is the development of a victor’s spirit. To enter a battlefield with the presumption of getting thrashed will certainly not result in a victory, and when it comes to spirits, the Indian armed forces have the highest of them all. Popular opinion would suggest that India stands no chance of winning a war against China. However, such an opinion is premised upon the hangover of the 1962 Sino-India War, which was definitely a resounding defeat for India. Sadly, people have done little to inform themselves about how drastically the Indian armed forces have changed and transformed themselves, ever since. Today, we are more than capable to give China a bloody nose, as we did in 1967 during the Nathu La conflict.
In resonance of the same, two American studies have also echoed similar sentiments, and have busted the bubble of so-called Chinese military superiority and edge over India. In fact, they have stuck their necks out, and given the strategic edge over China, to India. Recent studies from the Belfer Center at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Boston and the Center for a New American Security in Washington suggest India maintains an edge in high-altitude mountainous environments, CNN reported.
It must be remembered that unlike the PLA or the PLAAF (Chinese Air Force), the Indian military, particularly the Army and the Air Force have loads of experience in combat, and are essentially a battle-hardened force. The Indian Army is on a constant battle mode against Pakistan at the LoC, and frequent skirmishes at the LAC have only polished their battle readiness. The two studies admit to the same, and give India a clear advantage in terms of experience and combat in mountainous terrain.
“India is by far the more experienced and battle-hardened party, having fought a series of limited and low-intensity conflicts in its recent past,” the CNAS report says. “The PLA, on the other hand, has not experienced the crucible of combat since its conflict with Vietnam in 1979.” In Vietnam too, the Chinese were made to face a humiliating defeat, as the Vietnamese forces were battle-hardened by their conflict with the USA.
Meanwhile, the Belfer study said, “Recent conflicts with Pakistan give the current IAF a level of institutional experience in actual networked combat.” The same study has also boldly given the edge in the skies to the Indian Air Force. The Mirage-2000 and Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighter jets can overpower the PLAAF fleet, among which only the J-10 can compete with the Mirages, while India’s Su-30’s have no competition among the Chinese fleet of J-10’s, J-11s and Su-27 fighters. To add to the aerial woes of China, its fighter jet pilots are excessively dependent on ground commands and lack radical and creative decision-making capabilities in case of a dynamic aerial conflict. “Recent PLAAF exercises with unscripted scenarios have found that pilots are excessively reliant upon ground control for tactical direction,” the Belfer study said.
India has an estimated 270 fighters and 68 ground-attack aircraft it could bring into use in case of a conflict with China. Further, India has multiple airbases close to the Chinese border, and as such, our response time would be impeccable in the scenario of a Chinese cross border advance. In complete contrast, China has only 157 fighters and a smaller number of ground attack aircraft/drones which it can use against India. China’s aerial disadvantage and subsequent ground advance woes are exacerbated by the fact that all of its eight airbases in the region are civilian airfields at unwanted and peculiar elevations.
“The high altitude of Chinese air bases in Tibet and Xinjiang, plus the generally difficult geographic and weather conditions of the region, means that Chinese fighters are limited to carrying around half their design payload and fuel,” the Belfer study suggests. One way of overcoming this disadvantage would be for China to refuel its fighters mid-air, however, it does not have enough aerial tankers to do that job.
Speaking of the ground numbers, India has close to 225,000 troops facing China across its Northern, Central, and Eastern commands. Notably, all these forces are available very close to the China border, and are dedicated to thwart a cross border advance/invasion by China. China too, meanwhile, has close to 200,000 to 230,000 troops in the region. However, the Chinese numbers include troops meant to prevent an insurrection in both Tibet and Xinjiang, as well as to look out for potential conflicts at its border with Russia. Therefore, in terms of ground manpower too, India has a heavy hand over China.
The Belfer study cites estimates that China would need 220 ballistic missiles to neutralize/incapacitate one Indian airfield for a day. With only 1,000 to 1,200 missiles available for the task, China would quickly run out of assets needed to shut down India’s airfields, it says. The IAF, meanwhile, could easily bomb four vulnerable airfields of China, hence incredibly derailing its entire aerial combat activity. Besides that, when it comes to combat in the mountains and rough terrains, the Indian Army reigns supreme.
TFI has been consistent in its stance of China not being anything more than a paper dragon. We had earlier reported how due to the one-child policy, the PLA had overflowed itself with ‘little emperors‘ and ‘sissies’, who are unable to fight real battles and handle military infrastructure and equipment in a sophisticated manner. Moreover, China, unlike India, has no friends. It is an egoistic nation that has not cared to make any fruitful friendships or partnerships with other countries. On the contrary, US intelligence and covert support could prove to be a formidable tool for India in case of a conflict with China.
As a matter of fact, such are the state of affairs in China, that Huang Guozhi, senior editor of Modern Weaponry magazine, himself said, “At present, the world’s largest and experienced country with plateau and mountain troops is neither the US, Russia, nor any European powerhouse, but India.” He also remarked that the Indian mountain force, comprising of 200,000 troops and 12 divisions, was the largest mountain force of the world.
As such, the myth of the Chinese military and strategic superiority over India is busted like never before. Rest assured, if need be, the Indian armed forces are well equipped to deal with any Chinese misadventures at any point of the LAC and are bound to give them a bloody nose for their aggression.